SDG&E makes changes ahead of fire season

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-11 21:44:37-04

(KGTV) - A new report says the Napa Valley fires may have sparked from malfunctioning power lines. Back in 2007, San Diego Gas & Electric was blamed for starting wildfires in San Diego County. It resulted in 2,500 lawsuits against the utility company. 

The 2007 Witch Creek fire burned more than 44,000 acres. Since then, SDG&E has taken steps to make sure that doesn't happen again. They installed more than 170 weather stations throughout the county as part of the nation's largest privately-owned weather network. The modes look at wind speed, temperatures, and other factors to determine the potential to start or spread a major fire. 

During dry and windy conditions they can disable lines that would normally restore power after an outage. SDG&E's meteorologists send out a daily Fire Potential Index. It allows fire crews to increase staffing ahead of dangerous conditions. 

They've also contracted an air tanker used specifically for the region that can drop more than 2,600 gallons of water. The air tanker has made more than 464 drops over the past eight years. 

The utility company added 10,000 miles of underground lines and converted more than 10,000 wood poles to fire-resistant steel. 

SDG&E has partnered with fire departments, universities, and other agencies over the past few years. They believe they are more prepared for fire season this year than ever before.